Hiring Forklift Drivers – Part I: Targeting the Right Candidate

The most important, if not one of the most important jobs of a warehouse manager or human resources director is to hire forklift drivers. It is essential that people with the proper skills and appropriate experience is considered and ultimately selected for the job.

The process of finding a competent forklift driver involves three elements –-targeting the people who have the skills and experience to drive a forklift, getting more information about their skills during the interview process, and training the new driver so he can perform his job efficiently and safely.

Targeting Applicants

First, you need to be sure that the right people apply for the job.  So one thing you should look for in possible applicants is that they have some skills in driving a forklift and has some knowledge of how to maintain them.

One way to find out if a potential applicant has the skills is to seek out people who have experiences essential for a forklift driver. For example:

·      Does the applicant know what to expect in the workplace including how to drive a lift along different surfaces? How loads affect the stability of the lift? Is he a safe driver?
·      Does he know how to deal with pedestrian traffic that might be walking through his work area?
·      Is he aware of how the typical forklift works and does he understand the mechanical things that can go wrong with one?
·      Does he have knowledge of how to perform basic maintenance?
·      Does he have an understanding of physics and load mechanics?
·      Is he aware of OSHA safety standards?

It would also help if prospective drivers knew what OSHA requires from forklift drivers. This includes:

·      Employer certification that the driver has gone through a training course and knows that he is to be evaluated at least once every three years.
·      Re-training when the driver exhibits dangerous operation of a lift.

Sources that could help you get a leg up on your search for a competent driver include local training programs that hold sessions on driving lifts. Check your area for training companies and develop a relationship with them. They can help you identify good potential drivers in your locality and can assist in developing an on-site training course.

Key Forklift Driving Skills

As mentioned earlier, it would sure help if the potential driver already has skills in driving forklifts. This includes:

·      The ability to drive the style of forklifts you use.
·      The ability to calculate loads and whether or not he understands a bill of lading and freight quotes.
·      The ability to learn the process of inventory control.
·      Is the prospective applicant reliable? Remember, he is expected to be able to pick the right products and deliver them to the right place so that orders can be fulfilled efficiently and on time.

It might even be a good idea to ask a prospective driver to actually operate a forklift as you watch. A little thing like observing how he gets in and out of the lift can be extremely helpful in determining how important safety is to him in the performance of his job.

(Next time: Interviewing a prospective forklift driver)